Does China has only one type of moon cake?

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Mid-Autumn Festival is coming and you should know that there is not only one type traditional moon cake (月饼 yuèbǐng) in China! Last year, we introduced you fancy moon cakes available in Beijing for 2014 Mid-Autumn festival.

This year, we would like to invite you to discover different types of moon cakes! The most popular is the Cantonese type of moon cake, with its chewy pastry skin enveloping a sweet and dense filling; this is the one that you may receive and offer to share your best wishes to business relations and friends, but this is not the only type of moon cake you can find in China. 

If moon cake recipes vary, they have all a round shape, which, in Chinese culture, symbolizes prosperity and reunion for the whole family. Chinese people would eat their round moon cakes while looking at the full moon.

Be aware that moon cakes are also targeted in the anti corruption campaign, as reported by Reuters: ” China again warns against dark side of the mooncakes”

 

Let’s start a culinary tour of the moon cake specialities around China!

  • Yunnan moon cakes

Yunnan ham moon cakes:

According to legend, in the late Ming / early Qing Dynasty, the Yongli Emperor had no appetite. An Imperial chef Jizhongshengzhi prepared a bun made from a stuffing using Yunnan ham meat cut into small pieces, mixed with honey, refined sugar and enrobed with a pastry. 

The Emperor recovered his appetite and since then, the Yunnan ham moon cake is part of the Yunnan cuisine. 

Yunnan flowers moon cake:

Yunnan flowers moon cake features a unique blend of edibles flowers (roses, jasmine or chrysanthemum) into a pastry. According to the legend, the flowers moon cakes were initially prepared by a chef during the Qing Dynasty.
Sweet and fragrant, those moon cakes are believed to be “good for improving feminine beauty”. These cakes are widely sold in Kunming and even in other Chinese provinces.

 

  • Chengdu moon cakes

Green tea moon cake

Sichuan tea culture has a long history and while walking in the streets, you can enjoy the fragrant smell of green tea. Green tea pastry and black bean paste is a popular combination. Green tea moon cake doesn’t have a long history, but it is popular as moon cakes are traditionally eaten while drinking tea. 

Actually, you can combine a lot flavors with tea: lotus, buns, flowers, chocolate, ginger… 

 

 

  • Beijing moon cakesRed & white moon cakes

Red and white moon cakes are the traditional Beijing-style moon cake: as their name indicates, they come in a different skin colors depending on the type of sugar used in the pastry: Zilaihong (red sugar) and Zilabai (white sugar). 

They may not look as fancy as Cantonese-style moon cakes, but they have their own unique features: hard-crusted moon cakes are made of rock sugar, walnut pieces, pumpkin seeds and candied tangerine peel slices.


Legend says that when a plague hit Beijing, Chang’e, the mythical Moon Goddess sent her servant the Jade Rabbit, who offered two kinds of medicine, one red and one white to help sick people.

 

  • Chaozhou YiXi Lao pie

Lard or lao is the key ingredient in Chaozhou moon cakes and it provides to the pastry its unique texture. They feature a round shape with a layered flaky and crispy crust. 

It is usually stuffed with green bean or black bean paste, taro paste… and nowadays, with many other types of fillings… Chinese are quite creative in food! 

  • Hangzhou / Suzhou Mustard meat moon cake

Mustard meat moon cake is existing for years, but it is not so well known. According to the legend, the Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty had a trip to Hangzhou. A chef prepared a mustard moon cake, and the Emperor liked it.

Compared to pure meat moon cake, Hangzhou mustard meat moon cakes have a fresh taste and you don’t feel the greasy taste.

  • Shanghai Meat moon cake

Jiangsu, Zhejiang province is also an area with meat moon cake. The meat is enrobed with a crispy pastry. 

 

 

  • 2c81810f40a042dba04528c0Cantonese moon cake

Cantonese-style moon cake are not only popular in the South of China / Guangdong Province but all over the world. This is what people think when we talk about moon cake.

The fillings feature various ingredients such as lotus seed paste, melon seed paste, ham, chicken, duck, roast pork, mushrooms, and egg yolks. Cantonese-style mooncakes taste sweet.

 

 

 

  • 2015 Original moon cakes

Sources:

China Sichuan Food: http://www.chinasichuanfood.com/chinese-moon-cake-traditional-version/

Moon Festival Website: http://www.moonfestival.org/the-mooncake.html

China Highlights: http://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/mooncake.htm

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I am living in China since 2009 and in Beijing since 2011. I am sharing my experiences for other expatriates to make their stay in Beijing more enjoyable. As I am writing this blog for SCOUT Real Estate agency, I am also computing updates about the Real Estate market in Beijing, not only on residential properties, but as well on commercial locals and offices. Hope you enjoy your reading!